Roger Dubuis has always been a brand set on disrupting the watch industry. The watchmaker has been at the forefront of contemporary Haute Horlogerie since 1995.
Its audacious creations, firmly anchored in the 21st century, embody substantial expertise expressed through the finest watchmaking mechanisms combined with powerful and daring designs. This year at Watches & Wonders the brand took a risk by launching just one exceptional timepiece. The MonovortexTM Split-Seconds Chronograph was designed to showcase everything the company has been working on over the past few years, including an impressive new movement and a new radical and uncompromising approach, known as Hyper HorologyTM. The launch was in fact setting the scene for a series of exciting launches that will take place over the next twelve months. We met CEO Nicola Andreatta to find out more.
Tell us about Roger Dubuis at Watches & Wonders this year.
Watches & Wonders is always a great moment within the year firstly because we have a few occasions to celebrate the watch industry in general and this is probably the only moment to bring everyone from around the globe together to show them what we are capable of. For us, it’s always a key moment to demonstrate our unique attitude and world, and this year, more than ever, I think this was the case. Our booth is always designed to stand out and we were once again able to combine the past and the future within this surreal visionary representation. We had people queuing in front of the booth to take pictures of the show that we put on every hour. We had a robo-dog. We had a robo-bartender, so there were a lot of amazing things that made us stand out and conveyed, a futuristic image for our clients. So, I’m very happy about that.
Knowing that we create hyper-horology we wanted to create this kind of hyper-life where emotions are at the maximum. We enjoy life. We have this hedonistic approach where we really please ourselves with everything we do and we managed to have experiences for our clients within the booth every night to give them a taste of our lifestyle. It was also a moment for us to showcase our craftsmanship, innovation, and performance, with a single timepiece in which we decided to concentrate everything we’ve been doing in the past few years in terms of development.
It was a peculiar choice not to have several different novelties this year, but to combine everything into one, which sometimes is more complicated, and this was the case. We presented a split-second chronograph, which is one of the most complicated movements in the watchmaking industry. We equipped it with three patents that we developed recently, two of which are connected to gravity which is something we are fascinated by at Roger Dubuis in terms of increasing the performance of our timepieces. On one side, we control gravity, on the other side, we use it. This watch has a completely new tourbillon system, which is revolutionary to compensate for the gravity on the regulating organ of the timepiece, and a new oscillating mass, which offers a way to use gravity to power and fuel the energy of the watch. It uses a revolutionary system that we call Turborotor which works in parallel to the gravity force, and so it is ideally more efficient in terms of generating energy.
And finally, we have a new chronographic display for the minutes’ display. As always, not satisfied with all of that, we added a new case design which ideally should represent the future of our Spider collection which allowed us to show where we’re going in terms of design. And we used a new material – MCF in red – which is a colour that’s very dear to the brand and is part of our identity. The result is a stunning timepiece and I think everyone was quite amazed.
This was truly a concept watch, and the idea is that in the next twelve months, we will derive a series of timepieces that showcase all the innovations that we presented in this single one. These patents will be used for more commercial timepieces.
What can you tell me about technology and innovation at Roger Dubuis currently and the direction that you’re heading in?
In the past two years we have worked a lot on clarifying what we stand for, we’ve been reworking our mission and our promise and so on. And clearly, our aim is that of crafting and inventing hyper-horology and that means that we need to keep an eye on the future which is a big responsibility. We need to stand up to the expectations and we need to continue evolving our craft in a way that has never been seen before. That requires a huge effort in terms of research and development because we are talking about something that doesn’t exist already. This is where we have been investing a lot in the past few years to create a place where we can gather all the creativity, the ideas and all the creative minds of the company. We call Q-Lab, it’s a place that’s not accessible to everybody and it’s a place where we test, invent, create, and brainstorm on a daily basis. This is what is actually fuelling the future of Roger Dubuis, not only in terms of product development but in everything we do, including our experiences with clients and so on. The idea is that every person within the company can be part of the creative process. We have set up the concept so that anyone that works within the company can pitch ideas, and these ideas are discussed internally.
We also invite a few clients from around the world to the Q-Lab where we discuss specific creations for them if we are creating bespoke timepieces. The Q-Lab is equipped with machines and technology so that we can develop products in front of our clients.
As a brand how do you balance pushing the limits in innovation and technology while ensuring you honor the traditions of watchmaking?
This duality is in fact probably one of the peculiarities of the brand. We always say that we start from the tradition of fine watchmaking and then we evolve it. So, we constantly have an eye on the past, and then we evolve it from there.
Roger Dubuis himself came from a classical watchmaking background with his experiences at Patek Phillippe and Longines, so it was strongly anchored within the tradition, but his idea was always to evolve it into something that didn’t exist. And I think we are true to our DNA by continuing this tradition of constantly looking forward but always starting from what has been done in the past.
One keyway to show this is the fact that we are still 100% certified by the Poinçon de Genève, the highest standard in Swiss watchmaking. It’s an elite requirement in terms of quality and finishing and it requires our watchmakers to finish every single component by hand and every piece to be made and manufactured in Geneva. And there are very few companies that can say that today. This gives credibility to what we do, and it shows that we are very well anchored within the tradition of watchmaking. It’s interesting to see now within our Manufacture very advanced state-of-the-art technology on one side, and the hands of our craftsmen on the other side and they exist together which is very cool.
We know that creating experiences for clients is important to the brand, how are you continuing to do that?
This is very key to the brand and something that we continued to try and do even during the pandemic. We like to provide experiences that allow our clients to enjoy life, in the end, everything comes down to emotions and we want to make sure we evoke emotions in our clients, not just through our products but through these experiences.
We create a lot of experiences through our partners including Lamborghini. We do a lot of events on the track with Lamborghini cars, or we go for rallies around Europe as we are going to this month with some of our clients. These kinds of experiences are the times when we can really get our clients to experience the “hyper life”.
There are three words that we use in everything we do with our clients: pleasure, madness and freedom, which inform the life at Roger Dubuis and the experiences we have with our clientele. It is also great to connect different communities who share similar values and have some affinities in the way they live life. Our community is animated by this idea of living life differently and having emotional experiences. Life is too short to get bored!
Tell us about Roger Dubuis in the Middle East currently and what’s in the pipeline.
The Middle East is a very dear market to us as I think the brand resonates well with customers in the region. The biggest investment happened a few years ago when we opened our boutique at The Dubai Mall. It was right before the pandemic so the timing was interesting, but we are now seeing a lot of traction there. We just changed leadership within the market and so soon we hope to be able to accelerate even further within the region. We’re putting together a lot of specific initiatives, including, for example, the Platinum Monobalancier that we launched exclusively in Dubai last year. This was designed with our local clients in mind. Aside from Dubai, we want to expand further into other markets. We just opened in Bahrain. We will soon have a permanent location in Qatar. We are working on Saudi Arabia and the idea is that we’re going to invest even further in the next few years. The potential is huge, and we want to find ways to enjoy moments with our clients in the Middle East as well.
How are you managing high demand from your customers but trying to keep a sense of exclusivity around the brand at the same time?
There is high demand and it’s not easy given the limited quantities that we manufacture at Roger Dubuis but I don’t plan to increase quantities. We concentrate on skeletonized timepieces and high-end timepieces which means that we cannot increase our quantities without compromising on quality and we don’t plan to do that.
The most beautiful things in life come in scarce quantities and we want to keep this exclusivity. We are not for everybody, and I don’t have any problem with being polarizing even in terms of our brain attitude. And so, we’ll continue this way. I hope to be able to make our top clients happy and that by far is our focus for the next few years. I would not necessarily respond to the demand of the market; I will respond to the demand of our dear clients.
What do you think it takes to in today’s market to create and then sustain an icon in the watch industry?
You need to be relevant to the clientele but at the same time, you need to be timeless. It is a complicated approach because even just to be timeless it takes time! For us, it’s key to remain anchored in our DNA. The moment you start to depart from who you are to look for commercial success clients will let you down because it’s difficult for them to understand. And so, you need to have a clear understanding of who you are and be relevant to your clientele and if you can remain by having a design that stands the test of time. This is what we are trying to do.
Of course, sometimes there are timeless designs which need an update, and this is what we’ve been doing with the Excalibur, for example, when we decided to restyle it three years ago, and I think today we have something very contemporary there and we are seeing the success of the restyle. The design evolves and so we need to make sure we are always relevant at that moment in time.
Can you share a little more about what you have coming up in the months?
It’s going to be a very intense year for Roger Dubuis. As I mentioned I decided not to launch everything at once because we have a lot of important events coming up throughout the year and ideally, we want to have something to reveal at every event. For the next two to three years, we are going to again concentrate on the Excalibur Spider which is our sportiest novelty. We have Goodwood coming up soon and we will be the official timekeeper and so there will be an important lunch for the brand. A totally new calibre. I’m looking forward to that because it’s a piece that our clientele have been waiting for.
We have Pebble Beach in California where we will have another moment. then Art Basel Miami and then we have Watches & Wonders Shanghai in September. So, we will keep the momentum all through the year.